A few weeks back I – along with TWC Founder, Fred McKinnon – was blessed with the opportunity to hear some inspiring teaching and worship with some great new songs led by their writers, Matt Redman, Chris Tomlin, & the Nockels at the LIFT Worship Leader Collective put on by Passion City Church. Anyone wanting to review notes from the conference can simply search for the #Lift in my Twitter stream.
Lift culminated in Matt recording his new live CD, and what a CD it is! I’ve long been a Redman fan, and this CD seems to change things little for me: I’ve already picked at least 2 songs that I want to introduce to our congregation immediately.
Though the schedule was too packed to allow for a face-to-face interview, I was offered the opportunity to do a written interview of Matt, and the following e-conversation transpired as a result:
SHANNON: I’ve noticed that you’ve worked with quite a number of missional/church planting networks, such as Newfrontiers and Hillsong, for a time you were in the USA helping to establish Passion Church, and now – if I’ve heard correctly – you’re back in the UK working on something new. What drives your passion to plant churches?
MATT: I’ve had the privilege of being part of a few new church start ups, and all have been really different. It’s exciting to see a new church family taking root in a certain community and starting to impact lives. I love witnessing the fact that the gospel really does work. I’ve seen it happen with different expressions of church and in different environments. The kingdom of God is alive and well, and the gospel is powerful and effective.
SHANNON: Can you tell me more about the church you’re currently involved with, what your role is there, and how you balance the day-to-day of being both a touring recording artist and a worship pastor/lead worshiper in a local body.
MATT: We’re just getting involved in a church called St Peter’s in Brighton, UK. I’m not sure what our role will be, but I am excited about being involved as the challenge is so big. It’s a city of 250,000 people and has the lowest average age per person of any city in the UK. At the same time it’s probably also the most unchurched city in the UK, so there’s a huge challenge ahead. As for balancing travelling, family life and local church involvement, I don’t think I always get it right – it’s a learning curve!
SHANNON: What are you currently reading / have you recently read, and how does that play out on your forthcoming CD?
MATT: I’ve been reading some CS Lewis, some Tozer, some Spurgeon and some Piper – the usual culprits really! I find inspiration for songs comes from many different sources. One song on the new forthcoming album was written in reponse to watching the news story a while back of those Chilean Miners being rescued. Other songs are straight from bible verses.
SHANNON: If you had to un-write all of your songs but one, which would you choose to have still written, and why?
MATT: That’s a tough question. Maybe a song like “Blessed Be Your Name” or “You Never Let Go” – as we’ve had so much encouraging feedback over the years from people who have found those songs a helpful way to talk to God when they’re walking through some very tough life situations.
SHANNON: As a songwriter, often co-writing with my wife, I’ve noticed that many of your most far-reaching song were co-written with your wife, Beth. How does that process play out? Do you find that it is more of a struggle to write with your wife as opposed to other worship songwriters? Does she ever travel with you as a vocalist/musician? (I had submitted this question before realizing that Matt’s wife, Beth, was on stage with him the whole time as one of his vocalists – oops!)
MATT: My wife is a really good singer, and a very melodic songwriter. The thing I love most about her creative gifts is she’s a great completer/finisher of a song. Multiple times she will come into a song half way through the process and make contributions, edits and melody changes which make a big difference to the final song.
SHANNON: If you could co-write with any other songwriter – living or dead – who would it be and why? Similarly, who are some of your greatest musical influences – Christian or secular?
MATT: A lot of my favorite songwriters I actually have the privilege of writing with already! Chris Tomlin has a great gift of speaking in a really universal way through songs. Jonas Myrin who I’ve written over 20 songs with in the last few years brings a great energy and enthusiasm to the songcrafting process, and has so many great ideas. Matt Maher is a really great ‘crafter’ of a song – very poetic and very thoughtful. Jason Ingram seems to have a constant flow of inspiring melody ideas. There’s lots of other friends I love writing with too. But other than all these guys, I’d have to say my favorite songwriters are Charles Wesley and Sir Paul McCartney!
SHANNON: As a successful songwriter, I’m sure you have your critics, as that’s the nature of things. Since most readers of TheWorshipCommunity.com either work or volunteer at a church, I think it may help us to know how do you handle critics and criticism? Is your response any different if that criticism comes from leadership within the (your?) church?
MATT: I think it’s easy to get sensitive when it comes to such vulnerable things as songwriting or leading on a stage. So we need to be ready to be humble – rather than getting defensive. That’s easier said than done, but my aim even with harsh criticism or that which at first you think is unfair, is to try and see if there’s any truth in it. Humility is an essential ingredient for any leader.
SHANNON: When you find yourself up front as a worship leader/lead worshiper, what is your primary goal: do you have any specifics you’d encourage younger worship pastors to keep in mind under the same circumstances?
MATT: I think the main things is to encourage young leaders to think about what picture of God they are giving people through the songs they choose and write. Week after week, are we including all the main themes of scripture, and we are aiming to paint a big picture of God?
Thank you, Matt, for answering my questions. I’m really looking forward to your forthcoming CD, and I hope to review it (as I did your last) as soon as it becomes available!
So, TWC Subscribers – what’s your favorite Matt Redman song (personally), and why? Is there anything in his catalogue that you use often at your church that may be a suprise to the rest of us – a “hidden gem”, so to speak? Do share, and thanks for reading/chiming in!